Recovery system exposes major theft ring

Stories of identity theft have run rampant in recent years, but when it comes to construction thefts, identity theft is not the tactic used. LoJack’s annual top theft recovery stories for stolen construction equipment details one such theft that stands out among the rest.

According to LoJack, a rental company in Las Vegas recently notified police when some using false identification and credit cards rented a 2003 Ingersoll Rand skid-steer. When the equipment information was entered into the statewide stolen vehicle system computer, LoJack’s radio frequency-based recovery system, which was on the skid-steer, was activated.

A couple hours later, officers from the California Highway Patrol tracked the signal to a shipping company in Los Angeles, where a stakeout was set up. After waiting awhile with no apparent activity, investigators entered the business to talk to the owner. With the inspection of three skid-steers, police determined that one was stolen from Las Vegas and the other two were rented using false identification and unreported stolen credit cards.

Upon further questioning, the owner of the shipping company offered information relating to a person who was shipping the stolen equipment out of the country.

Investigators combined forces with detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department and the Burglary Auto Theft Division to issue several search warrants at suspicious locations. Numerous suspects were identified who had been using false identification and credit cards to rent the equipment.

According to LoJack, recovered shipping records showed 12 pieces of equipment had been shipped. Nine of the pieces were already resold in Russia, while U.S. customs officers waited on the receiving line of three pieces in transit to Germany.

Currently, the investigation is still ongoing with the estimated total value of equipment at $750,000 and growing, according to LoJack.

“In the six years that LoJack has been tracking and recovering stolen construction equipment, we’ve seen that organized crime rings are often behind the theft,” says Richard T. Riley, Lojack’s chairman and chief executive officer.

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Riley says his company is proud that their system was instrumental in multiple recoveries over the last year, and hopes that LoJack can continue to help fight the growing problem of construction equipment theft – a problem with a very high cost to construction companies in both lost equipment and business downtime.